THE PRIME Minister of Mauritius has admitted that his country is facing its "greatest challenge" since its formation as the fallout from the Michaela McAreavey verdict continues.
Dr Navin Ramgoolam told of his "personal sadness" that the families of the murdered school teacher have been left devastated by the events of the past few months.
Dr Ramgoolam, who spent many years studying in Ireland, made an emotional plea that investigators will get justice for Michaela and her grieving widower John McAreavey.
He told the Herald: "We sympathise with them. We share their grief. There are no words to express how we feel.
"We've had many challenges in our history but personally, this tragedy is a great challenge for us."
Dr Ramgoolam, whose father was previously Prime Minister of Mauritius, studied medicine in the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) in Dublin in the 1970s.
He refused to condemn those who have called for a boycott of Mauritius, adding that he "understands" their outrage.
"I think this is unfortunate but I can understand the reaction, I can totally understand the reaction. It's unfortunate, not because of something happening means the whole Mauritian people are like this. In fact the Mauritian people were outraged when they heard the death of Mrs McAreavey.
"There was a unanimous wave of sympathy for the victim's family. I myself, studied in Ireland, I have a great love for the Irish people but its unfortunate this has happened."
A number of politicians and travel agents have called for the blacklisting of Mauritius as a travel destination.
But Dr Ramgoolam said he could assure tourists they will be safe here and said he hopes Irish people continue to choose Mauritius for their holidays.
"I do hope so because it's a very, very unfortunate thing that has happened. It's the first time [the murder of a tourist] happened in the history of our country. But there was due process, there was a verdict of the jury, the verdict of the jury is sacrosanct, we cannot appeal it.
"But the fact remains that there has been a murder that has not been resolved, and therefore we're going to pursue our efforts to bring the culprit or culprits to justice. We need to bring the culprit or the culprits of this heinous crime to justice.
"And I will leave no stone unturned to do that."firstname.lastname@example.org